The Infiltrators

In Israel, the term “infiltrators” is used to describe the transgression of the country’s political borders in order to commit a terrorist act, while the more general meaning of this term describes the hostile crossing of enemy lines or the covert transgression of a given territory’s borders for the purpose of espionage, a political coup, or a gradual conquest. At present, this term is commonly used to refer to Africans who have crossed the border from Africa into Israel; alongside additional terms such as “refugees,” “asylum seekers,” and “immigrant workers,” it plays an important role in the discussion of the status and future of these groups. In this context, the term “infiltrators” fixes the status of border crossers as that of liminal subjects, who remain trapped between here and there, citizens of a no place.

The exhibition “The Infiltrators” examines the local and global state of asylum seekers and refugees through works created with the participation of communities of asylum seekers in Israel and elsewhere in the world. But the exhibition title plays a double role, since it aspires to look at the included art projects as constituting an act of infiltration. The featured artists attempt to undermine existing stereotypes by enacting different forms of participation, thus questioning common perceptions of the complex state of asylum seekers or refugees. These artists infiltrate the communal or public sphere as outlaws or cunning spies, and cross the thin line between reality and fiction in order to examine and destabilize the power relations that control and define this sphere. They search for the fissures within dichotomies, for the liminal spaces between points of contention, and linger within these borderline spheres.

The featured projects reflect a range of participatory strategies that do not shy away from provoking conflict and walking the thin line between the ethic and the aesthetic. By means of these four works, as well as through talks and guided tour with the different participants- Asylum seekers, south Tel- Aviv residents, artists and activists, “The Infiltrators” attempts to examine participatory art’s forms of representation and display as well as its limitations, while probing the relations between artist, community, and audience.

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Projects

Ghana ThinkTank

Ghana ThinkTank (Christopher Robbins, John Ewing, and Maria del Carmen Montoya from the US), was established in 2006 as an international network of think tanks producing strategies for the solution of local problems in the “developed” world.

The founding principle was that think tanks in the so-called “third world” could offer solutions to “first-world” problems, as a way to expose the assumptions and power dynamics of cross- cultural work, particularly charity, aid and international development. They later discovered that this process could serve to create encounters between groups in conflict, and to produce unexpected alliances.

For “the Infiltrators”, think tanks composed of asylum seekers from Eritrea and Sudan offered solutions to the problems of Israelis from the south of Tel Aviv, and vice versa. The process evolved over the course of several months, and included conversations with dozens of residents and asylum seekers who raised problems ranging from dirty dog parks to racism. The installation at the Artport Gallery attempts to follow the processes undertaken by means of documentation, sculptural representations, and a series of workshops that will mobilize people out of the gallery and into the public sphere of south Tel Aviv, and vice versa. A mobile sculpture positioned on a tricycle functions as a point of encounter and a work station that continues to record problems and broadcast solutions in the gallery and throughout the city in the course of the exhibition. Perhaps also after it ends…

The project was created in collaboration with Maayan Sheleff

Community organizer- Yael Ravid

The vertical gardens are in collaboration with “Urban Environment Nursery – onya city”

The Neve Shaanan tour is in collaboration with Nisan Almog

Participants:

Sudanese Think Tank
Adam Ahmed, Adam Arbab, Ahmed Mirsal Adam, Anwar Suliman Arbab, Arbab Abakar, Bashor Mohammad Salah, Jamal Omer, Zakaria Mohammed Abdallah Saleh , Hassan Butora Rahima, Hassan Ahmed Shakur, Yeman Adam, Muhamed Haron Abker, Noureldin Mohammed Adam, Adil Aldao

Eritrean Think Tank
Binyam Gikidan, Habtom Kiflom Tesfamariam, Sulumani Mohammed, Samrawit Solomon, Philipos Tesfai, Shiden Kitiai, Tomass Gabrab, Teklit Michael

Israeli Think Tank
Or Levi, Yael Ben- Yefet, Maayan Ravid, Sophie Menashe, Ivry Baumgarten, Robert Ungar, Rachel Priel, Shira Dushy, and others.

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